Hello Wine club!
I am really excited about this tasting session with dry sherry, and port. There is so much to learn about sherry! Sherry is a magical creation that starts as a wine, then due to the terroir and the sea and the humidity it develops a yeasty protective cover that can grow no where else. What was once thought to be supernatural (and ruined), now is carefully crafted.
The range is so spectacularly varied, from bread-like briney notes of fino; toffee-caramel oloroso; almond, citrus, and baked apple amontillado mediums; to raison and prune creamy sweetness!
Welcome to the tasting table!
Sherry (English), Jerez (Spanish), Xeres (French)
The varietal is the Palomino grape, a disease resistant and quite vigorous grape with a neutral aroma, flavour and character. Sherry’s character is derived from the ‘albariza’ soil and the solera system where it is made.
Sherry comes from a small wedge of land along the sea in southwest Spain in the province of Andalusia.
A fortified wine progressively blended and aged in a network of old barrels called solera. Depending on how the wine moves through the solera, different styles of Sherry can be made.
After fermentation is complete, the base wines are fortified with grape spirit to increase their final alcohol content. Wines classified as suitable for aging as Fino and Manzanilla are fortified until they reach a total alcohol content of 15.5 per cent by volume. As they age in barrel, they develop a layer of flor, a yeast-like growth, resting on the wine like a lace tablecloth, that helps protect the fino from excessive oxidation by consuming the surrounding oxygen. The flor gives the fino a subtle yeasty aroma and flavour not unlike bread dough.
Amontillado is an aged fino and after it moves through the solera it is fortified higher than a fino or manzanilla and it is put into another series of barrels where it will no longer be protected by flor. It will oxidize a bit more taking on a deeper colour and rich nutty flavours. There a still a few producers that make a dry Amontillado (0-5 Grams per litre) most blend in a small percentage of sweet Pedro Ximenez; since 2012 laws require labeling any Amontillado over 5 G/L as Medium (5-115 Grams per litre).
Those wines that are classified to undergo aging as Oloroso are fortified to reach an alcohol content of at least 17 per cent. Flor yeasts (all yeasts) die in an environment that is greater than 16.4% alcohol. Oloroso do not develop flor and so oxidise slightly as they age, giving them a darker colour. They move slower through the solera so develop a deep caramel-toffee richness.
Because the fortification takes place after fermentation, most Sherries are initially dry, with any sweetness being added later. In contrast, Port wine, for example, is fortified halfway through its fermentation, which stops the process so that not all of the sugar is turned into alcohol.
Fortified Wine Type Alcohol % ABV Sugar content(grams per litre)
Fino 15–17 0–5
Manzanilla 15–17 0–5
Amontillado 16–17 0–5
Palo Cortado 17–22 0–5
Oloroso 17–22 0–5
Dry 15–22 5–45
Pale Cream 15.5–22 45–115
Medium 15–22 5–115
Cream 15.5–22 115–140
Dulce / Sweet 15–22 160+
Moscatel 15–22 160+
Pedro Ximénez 15–22 212+
FINO – TIO PEPE; JEREZ SPAIN
#231829 $17 15% alc 2 G/L sugar
Clear pale lemon colour, light to med bodied
Citrus peel, apples (bright green apples) toasted nuts, dried grapes and fruit blossoms; bone dry with nutty citrus and briney notes – warm finish
Serve chilled with sushi, seafood, fish (sardines!) traditional Spanish tapas
MANZANILLA-La Gitana – BODEGAS HIDALGO; Sanlucar de Barrameda Spain
#745448 Vintages $17 15% alc 2 /L sugar
Dry, crisp and delicate, bright with saline, blanched almond, piercing chalk finish
Aperitif and with light dishes: seafood, smoked food, olives and tapas
AMONTILLADO – BODEGAS EL MAESTRO SIERRA; Jerez de la Frontera Spain 12 Year old
#310458 Vintages $23 (375 ml bottle) 17.5 %alc 3 G/L sugar
Full flavoured fino- scarce!
Bold nutty character with brisk saline finish
MEDIUM DRY – ALVEAR; MONTILLA, SPAIN
#112789 $13 17% alc 30 G/L sugar
Tawny/amber colour, med-full bodied and medium dry
Pear, baked apple, citrus notes with nutty, dried fruit flavours
Serve room temp as an aperitif or with soups, thai food and cheeses
OLOROSO – DON NUNO, LUSTAU SOLERA RESERVA; Jerez de la Frontera Spain
#375105 Vintages $15 20% alc 7 G/L sugar
Mahogany/bronze coloured with a green edged coppery hue. Full bodied.
Aromas are nut-like (walnuts and pecans)dark raison and chocolate. Back notes of dried figs, dates, caramel and spice. On the palate nuts and lemony acidity, chocolate brown sugar sweetness in the smooth finish.
Not normally a food wine, serve as an aperitif, after dinner digestif. Some suggested pairings though do include: game, dried fruit, mature cheeses, spiced nut cake and ginger snaps.
CREAM SHERRY – BODEGAS OSBORNE premium; Casa Fundada, El Puerto Santa Maria, Spain
#31120 $13 19 % alc 116 G/L sugar ( s )
Copper/amber, dark mahogany colour, medium bodied, well balanced, sweet and smooth
Clear notes of Pedro Ximenez grapes.
Flavours of date, prune, raisons, orange and spice. Honeyed style, long finish balanced acidity
Aperitif or digestif
Ash or blue cheeses, fresh and dried fruit
TAWNY – GRAHAMS, 10 year old Port; Lodge on the Estuary of the Douro River, Portugal
#206508 $29 20% alc 111G/L sugar
Medium tawny colour, Plum, fig, raison and nutty aromas. Rich dried fruit and nutty flavours.
Full bodied with a long finish
Pairs with dark semi-sweet chocolate, figs, breakfast style sausages, blue, ash and matured cheese